NKU's general education curriculum to get reviewed
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. (AP) -- The U.S. Department of Education says the general education curriculum at Northern Kentucky University should be reviewed.
In a letter to the group that accredits NKU, the Education Department says the group failed to investigate a complaint about new general education requirements and should review the program again.
The issue stems from complaints by two faculty members who say the system adopted last fall could allow students to graduate without taking courses that should be required.
NKU Provost Gail Wells told The Kentucky Enquirer the school is "confident" that the new curriculum meets accreditation standards, according to The Kentucky Enquirer.
Belle Wheelan, who is president of the accrediting agency, says she thinks correct procedures were followed.
She will report back to the Education Department next month. Philosophy professor Robert Trundle is one of two faculty members who filed a complaint against the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools' Commission on Colleges.
"You can go through NKU, a liberal arts college, without ever taking a fine arts course," Trundle said.
The new curriculum reduced required general education courses, which every student is required to complete before graduating, from 52 hours to 37. The dispute appears to center around the school's definition of fine arts courses.
Colleges around the country are changing how they handle general education courses by writing standards about what students will learn. The categories can vary widely from state to state and college to college.
The university's top officials say the new curriculum simplifies requirements, but Trundle said he believes it devalues the liberal arts and while elevating professional preparatory courses like those offered in the new College of Informatics.
Trundle said he complained to the Education Department after his complaints to the school and the accreditor were brushed off.
SACS' rules require bachelor's degree candidates to complete at least 30 combined credit hours in categories of Humanities/fine arts, social and behavioral sciences, and natural sciences/mathematics with at least one class from each category.
Wheelan said she would review the procedures that were followed.
"We believe NKU followed our rules," Wheelan said. "We believe we followed our rules. I'll have to go back and check to make sure."